ACAPULCO, Mexico -- No.3 seed Daria Gavrilova advanced to the quarterfinals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC on Wednesday, overcoming home crowd heroine Renata Zarazúa, 7-5, 6-3.
"She’s a tough player," Gavrilova said after the match, regarding Zarazúa. "She had nothing to lose today, and she was fighting until the end."
The 24-year-old Australian survived a topsy-turvy opening round against Madison Brengle, and had similar ups and downs in the first set against the Mexican wild card before quelling the run of Zarazúa in one hour and 36 minutes.
The 20-year-old Zarazúa has much to be proud of, as the World No. 253 posted an excellent performance this week by eliminating Kristyna Pliskova in the first round before demonstrating exceptional skills in her second-round encounter with the World No. 26.
— WTA (@WTA) February 28, 2018
Gavrilova started the match incredibly well, using her strong forehand to pick apart the Zarazúa game. The Mexican felt pressured to go for broke, and hit too many unforced errors at the outset -- eight alone in the first three games.
The Australian raced to a 4-1 lead, and it appeared that it would be a quick day at the office for the third seed. But midway through the set, Zarazúa became sturdier on her groundstrokes, and Gavrilova began to falter on serve.
Serving at 4-2, Gavrilova hit three double faults in the game and was quickly broken; it would be a problem which would plague her for the remainder of the match, and made the encounter much more difficult than it needed to be.
But Zarazúa was starting to execute the impressive combination of power and defense which made her a standout in these opening matches of the tournament. The Mexican began to routinely extend the points beyond what Gavrilova expected, and after more unforced errors from the Australian, Zarazúa served for the opening set at 5-4 following a four-game run.
But Gavrilova used her experience when it mattered most at the end of the set, aggressively going for the lines and making those shots more often than not. The Australian broke back for 5-5, and then broke Zarazúa at 6-5 with another strong forehand, to clinch the first set.
— WTA (@WTA) February 28, 2018
Gavrilova raced to a 4-0 lead in the second set, extending her run of games to seven straight before Zarazúa could get on the board. But again, the Gavrilova serve started to falter when she was close to the finish line, and served three double faults in a single game for the second time in the match, letting Zarazúa claim one break back.
Still, the Australian steadied herself enough to obtain a chance to serve for the match at 5-3 in the second set. But, with the excited crowd behind her, Zarazúa gave everything she had in the final game. Gavrilova served her eleventh and twelfth double faults of the match to squander her first two match points, and Zarazúa held a break point to get back on serve.
It took Gavrilova five tries to get over the line, but she shored up her serve when necessary, and finally claimed victory when a crosscourt forehand forced a final error from the up-and-coming Mexican.
Gavrilova planned on relaxing for the rest of the day, after the heat of the encounter. "I'll jump in the ice baths, probably have a chill afternoon, not do too much," she said. "Probably stay out of the sun."